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4 Feb 2018

President Buhari Admits He Jailed Ekwueme Unjustly

Second Republic Vice President, Alex Ekwueme, was buried on Friday at his hometown, Oko in Orumba local government area of Anambra state.
Below are three takeaways from the event:

Pres. Buhari is truly locked up inside the presidential villa:

There are several reasons one could think of for why Pres. Muhammadu Buhari ought to have attended the burial of the late elder statesman. All week long several events took place in different states to honour Ekwueme, a great Nigerian leader whose contributions and ideas (like the geopolitical zones and the PDP) have been among the longest lasting of our democracy. Yet Pres. Buhari stayed away all through.

On Friday, while Ekwueme was being buried, Pres. Buhari was ensconced in the villa receiving the outgoing South African High Commissioner to Nigeria, Lulu Louis Mnguni – an important work of state but far below in any order of priority.

Yes Vice President Yemi Osinbajo was ever present at the events and that was really good. But it is not really the same thing.

Last month, Pres. Buhari told some APC leaders who visited him that he “has been locked up inside the presidential villa.” It may have been a statement made half-jokingly but it definitely is playing out daily from Buhari’s inability to visit states where hundreds of citizens have been murdered this year alone to the refusal to honour the late VP with his presence. Soon the 2019 campaign season will kick off and it would be interesting to see if Buhari’s “locked up” theory would extend to that season and his campaigns would be conducted from the comforts of the villa.

An honour deserved:

Vice president Yemi Osinbajo announced on behalf of the federal government that a federal university in Ebonyi state has now been renamed for Ekwueme. Solid honour for the patriot, and well deserved too.

“No amount of commendation can be enough from a nation which is greater for the services of one of her own. We therefore offer only a token. And so it is my pleasure to announce that in commemoration of the life and contribution to the nation by Alex Ifeanyichukwu Ekwueme GCON, the President of the federal republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari has approved and directed that the Federal University Ndifu, Alike Ebonyi State be now renamed and become known as  Alex Ekwueme Federal University,” Osinbajo said.

Buhari admits that he jailed Ekwueme unjustly:

When Brigadier Muhammadu Buhari assumed power on the last day of 1983, ousting the civilian regime led by Shehu Shagari with Alex Ekwueme as Vice President, he placed Shagari on house arrest while Ekwueme was sent to the Kirikiri Maximum Security Prison.

It was instructive that the trial judge who presided over Ekwueme’s corruption trial ruled that the man had in fact become poorer while in office.

Osinbajo, representing Pres. Buhari at the burial admitted the injustice of jailing Ekwueme in 1984. “After the coup that ousted the government which he served, while his finances were thoroughly combed for evidences and he was imprisoned unjustly, he went on to demonstrate the power of principle which only one man can have,” Osinbajo said.

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